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BREAKING: Ex-aviation minister, Sirika, brother deny EFCC’s fresh N19.4 billion fraud charge

Hadi Sirika.webp

A former Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, and his brother, Ahmad, have pleaded not guilty to a fresh fraud charge instituted against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before a Federal Capital Territory High Court, Garki, Abuja.

The fresh arraignment took place on Thursday before Justice Sulaiman Belgore.

Nairametrics previously reported that Sirika and his daughter were arraigned before Justice Sylvanus Oriji of the FCT High Court over fraudulent practices associated with the Nigeria Air debacle.

EFCC fresh charges

In the EFCC fresh 10-count charge, Sirika was accused of conferring unfair advantage on his brother while using him as leverage to divert billions from the Federal Ministry of Aviation.

The anti-graft agency also alleged that the former Minister engaged in the “illegal award” of contracts.

Count one of the charges reads,

“That you HADI ABUBAKAR SIRIKA, while being Minister of Aviation, on or about 3rd November 2022, in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did use your position to confer an unfair advantage upon ENGINOS NIGERIA LIMITED whose alter ego, AHMAD ABUBAKAR SIRIKA is your blood brother, by using your position to influence the award to them, the contract for the establishment of Fire Truck Maintenance and Refurbishment Centre at Katsina Airport for the sum of N3,811,497,685.00 (Three Billion, Eight Hundred and Eleven Million, Four Hundred and Ninety-Seven Thousand, Six Hundred and Eighty-Five Naira Only) and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 and punishable under the same section.”

What transpired in court

At the resumed proceedings, the EFCC counsel, Oluwaleke Atolagbe, told the court to direct the registrar to read the charges to the defendants.

When the charges were read to them, Sirika replied, “I’m not guilty, my lord, and it is not true.”

His brother also denied the charge.

EFCC counsel asked the court for a date for the commencement of trial, saying the anti-graft agency has over 12 witnesses.

Backstory

Three months ago, the EFCC had said its operatives arrested Abubakar Ahmad Sirika, the brother of Hadi Sirika, over an alleged contract fraud in the aviation ministry.

Abubakar was picked up by the anti-graft agency on Sunday, February 4, following an investigation by the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development.

Sirika is facing allegations, including conspiracy, abuse of office, diversion of public funds, contract inflation, criminal breach of trust, and money laundering totaling N8,069,176,864.

The commission had revealed that the funds in dispute related to four aviation contracts awarded by the former minister to a company called Engirios Nigeria Limited, which is owned by his younger brother.

The EFCC is empowered by law to track financial crimes while every accused person remains innocent until found guilty by a competent court.

Sirika served as aviation minister from 22 August 2019 to 29 May 2023.


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